CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ohio State swingman Malaki Branham, a likely lottery pick in the upcoming 2022 NBA Draft, is not the only player in town for a pre-draft workout with the Cleveland Cavaliers today.
Sources tell cleveland.com the Cavs are hosting a “group” workout at Cleveland Clinic Courts that also features intriguing G League Ignite wing MarJon Beauchamp (in the mix for the No. 14 pick) and Alabama’s Keon Ellis (considered a likely second-round pick). There are other prospects involved as well, with a plan for the group to compete 3 on 3 in front of Cleveland’s executives and coaches.
Beauchamp spent Tuesday afternoon in Cleveland. He hung out, met with members of the team and checked out the practice facility — all part of the Cavs’ usual pre-draft process. It’s rarely just an on-court workout. The organization wants to spend quality time with these guys, interview them and sometimes even take them to lunch or dinner to get to know them better. Two years ago, a large Cavs contingent went to Auburn University for a closer look at Isaac Okoro, where he shot the ball better than expected. Later that night, they went to dinner at a nearby restaurant. That get-together — combined with what they saw on film and in person during the college basketball season — played part in him being chosen fifth in the draft.
While Beauchamp’s stock seems outside the lottery range, the Cavs are casting a wide net ahead of the June 23 draft. Unsure who will be available given the uncertainty beyond the top 3, there are about 10 players on their radar with the 14th pick, sources say. Beauchamp is on that list, with head coach JB Bickerstaff receiving film breakdowns to better understand Beauchamp’s strengths and weaknesses.
A 21-year-old wing who can play shooting guard or small forward, Beauchamp bounced around high schools in the state of Washington and then took the junior college route for one abbreviated campaign before joining Ignite. One of four players from that ballyhooed G League program added to the Rising Stars during NBA All-Star Weekend, Beauchamp is part of Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports Group and is coming off a strong season. He is expected to join teammates Dyson Daniels and Jaden Hardy as a first-round selection.
Known more for his defensive competitiveness, Beauchamp has an evolving jumper and showed plenty on the offensive end, averaging 15.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals over 34.6 minutes.
In a February matchup against the Cavs’ G League affiliate Charge, Beauchamp scored 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting to go with three rebounds, two assists, one steal and a block in 26 minutes.
Measuring a bit north of 6-foot-6 in shoes, with a solid 197-pound frame and a near 7-1 wingspan, Beauchamp has good size, versatility and athleticism. He ranked in the 85th percentile in points per shot at the rim (1.32) but averaged just 0.90 points per jump shot in the half court, which ranked in the 41st percentile — a legitimate concern when it comes to his Cleveland fit. Despite that shortcoming, Cavs general manager Mike Gansey has close ties to Ignite player development coach Thomas Scott — a former Cavaliers and Charge coach — and Scott raves about Beauchamp’s work ethic, seeing a clear path to becoming a respectable outside shooter.
Wednesday’s setting will give him a chance to show that. It will give him a chance to compete against — and with — some other like-sized prospects in a similar draft range. Can he stand out? Will he outperform some of his classmates? Does he make a stronger case to be a lottery pick?
Earlier this week, Branham conducted a workout with the New York Knicks, who hold the No. 11 pick. The Knicks also had him in a group setting alongside Kentucky guard TyTy Washington and Daniels. They wanted to see how he performed in a more competitive environment, against quality defenders, instead of the usual 1-on-0 drill-heavy shooting sessions.
The Cavs are getting the same opportunity on Wednesday. Their desire to find a two-way wing isn’t a secret — and the draft could provide that opportunity. It’s a deep positional group. Branham and Beauchamp are just two of the many options. Seeing them on the court at the same time will be part of that evaluation.
If Beauchamp shows well against a player generating top-10 buzz, it can help solidify his place in the No. 14 mix.
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